My advice for newbie knife sharpeners (2015 updates!)

Sep 23, 2014
I've worked on 3-4 of my less expensive knives now and none of them are as sharp as people show in the videos I watch. I've gotten them to the point of having a burr all the way up and down the bevel on both sides using a 400 grit. Then I've removed the burr and moved on to the 1000. Same routine. All the videos say that by this point the knife should be super sharp and should easily push cut through copy paper. it seems to do that ok, but not quite as smoothly as the videos. Then I cut food with them and they aren't nearly as sharp doing that as are my high-end custom-made knives are. I've had some of these knives for several years and they are still sharper than those I just freehand sharpened.

Oh, I did the sharpie routine too, so I think my angle is pretty good.

Will this get better or do I need to try something different? I'm actually considering giving up and getting a Hapstone or KWS (?) sharpening system. I spent quite a bit of money on these stones though.

use lower stropping angle
or SKIP stropping altogether and deburr using high angle then backsharpen after deburring
a sharpening stone is all the sharpening and deburring equipment needed

If you wanna figure stuff out faster , sharpen the same knife three times in a row, or get more serious, take some measurements :)